New Zealand music duo Broods came back with their second studio album, Conscious, in June — a work that was not only unfailingly captivating but also colorfully varied. “Free” is a thrumming, unapologetic self affirmation anthem and a reminder that difficult times are not an excuse to give up.
“Yesterday,” White Sea
Los Angeles based singer Morgan Kibby started White Sea as an independent project and has been regularly releasing singles since 2014. “Yesterday” pushes the boundaries of her synth-pop style with sweet, effervescently nostalgic lyrics and a tingling, unforgettable beat.
“You and I,” PVRIS
PVRIS released a deluxe version of their debut album, White Noise, in April, which included everything from original versions to three new tracks. “You and I” is the rock group’s best song to date, with a dark, soaring buildup and an intense chorus, all infused with heavy, passionate vocals.
— Samantha Lu
“Borrowed Bones,” Animal Flag
Take the poeticism of indie band Bright Eyes, add a modern twist with a dash of emo, and you have Animal Flag. “Borrowed Bones” from their self-titled 2016 release perfectly captures the band’s raw talent, creating a song entirely familiar and unique at once.
“Denial,” Mannequin Pussy
Mannequin Pussy absolutely floored the punk world with Romantic, a 17-minute long thrill ride featuring gut-punching hardcore with elements of indie rock sprinkled in. “Denial” expertly showcases their penchant for intertwining these genres into their own unique sound.
“Peace on Earth,” Culture Abuse
“There might be a war / well I don’t care / I just wanna get by / if that’s alright” — Culture Abuse said it best: humans are really damn selfish (but also fun). By taking rock ‘n’ roll by the horns, Culture Abuse made one kickass record with punchy jams about getting by in a crazy world.
“There Was a Door,” Crying
Crying transformed from Anamanaguchi-esque chiptune on their first EPs into a meticulously crafted rock band on their debut full length this year. Lead singer Elaiza Santos’s sugary vocals bob and weave within undeniably killer riffs, making a stunningly dynamic track that shifts from crescendoing guitar scales to bopping synth chords.
— Dominic Polsinelli
Although released as a single in 2015, “2Shy” was part of Shura’s album, Nothing’s Real, which was released this year. “2Shy” is a beautiful, complicated song that encapsulates everything that makes Shura so interesting as a musician.
“Final Song,” MØ
Despite featuring on all manner of songs this year, MØ never gets enough recognition for her own releases. “Final Song” is upbeat, has contagious lyrics that won’t leave you alone and a beat that’s perfect for dancing. A brilliant pop song, indeed.
NAO is one of the most disappointingly under-the-radar artists around, and deserves so much more recognition for everything she does. “Girlfriend” is powerful, emotional and truly showcases everything you’re missing without NAO in your life.
“Ontario,” Nina Nesbitt
Originally a tour mate of Ed Sheeran, Nina Nesbitt has grown into an entirely different and incredible singer song-writer, with a lovely unique style of writing and singing. Her four city-themed releases are all stand out releases of this year.
— Megan Williams
“Told You I’d Be With the Guys,” Cherry Glazerr
In four and a half minutes, Cherry Glazerr completely demolishes the idea of men as the superior rock gender. The speaker opts to hang with the guys, but quickly learns better and howls for her ladies.
“Kiss,” Mannequin Pussy
The name Mannequin Pussy in and of itself demands attention. “Kiss” is a seventy-six second release of energy, passion and loneliness.
This track is fast, short, and a prime example of some of the excellent punk that came out of 2016. The chorus yells, “I’m fucked up and she hates my guts.” What more could you want?
— Carly Snider[spotify:https://open.spotify.com/user/michigandailyarts/playlist/0s1LiWVwQPAOOjMdYE4V9r]